PLAINFIELD — State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) announced  a plan for a gradual reopening of child care centers has been put in place, as parents prepare to return to work. 

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“I know there are concerns from parents who are worried they will not be able to return to work because they do not have reliable child care,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “I’m pleased childcare facilities will safely reopen soon, so families can start to get back to some normalcy.”

All child care facilities will be able to open under phase 3 and 4 of the governor’s reopening plan, as long as they create their own reopening plan that ensures policies to keep both children and staff safe and healthy, and adhere to the guidelines set forth by the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

That plan must include what to do if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, daily symptom checks and a face covering requirement. 

No more than 10 children will be allowed in a childcare facility for the first four weeks. After four week of following proper health, social distancing and sanitation routines and guidelines, it will be able to expand to larger group sizes, though not its full licensed capacity.

“While a gradual reopening, parents need the assurance their children are in a safe and healthy environment,“ Bertino-Tarrant said. “Extra precautions will allow peace of mind for the parents and allow our daycares to slowly get back to business.” 

All regions of the state are on track to move to the next phase as early as May 29. 

PLAINFIELD — As people struggle to make rent and mortgage payments, keep their small businesses afloat, and deal with the other hardships created by the COVID-19 crisis, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is urging the Will County Board to immediately establish a panel to distribute federal CARES Act funding to residents in need.

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“Will County was awarded money to help the residents of our area combat the financial hardships they are facing due to COVID-19,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “We must work quickly and diligently to make sure the needs of all Will County residents are met in a timely manner.”

The federal government passed the CARES Act in March to provide financial relief for workers, families, small businesses and local governments that have been impacted fiscally by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is up to county officials to decide where Will County’s share of the money goes.

In addition to supporting local health operations, Bertino-Tarrant is asking the county to consider establishing grants to prevent evictions, creating a program to provide forgivable loans to small businesses that have experienced interruptions due to COVID-19 and providing direct financial assistance to families or individuals.

“It is imperative to establish a process for reviewing and distributing dollars to address the needs of our residents,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “People throughout the community are struggling, and it’s up to us, the area’s public officials, to prioritize those we serve.”

PLAINFIELD —State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) and her colleagues from Will County have expressed uneasiness their part of the state could have a delayed reopening. Under the governor’s plan, Will County is in the same region as Cook County, which has unique challenges and should be addressed separately.

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“Families and businesses are struggling. Most people I speak with understand the need for caution, but are prepared to work under new safety precautions,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “If my district stayed in the same region as Chicago and Cook County, it would most likely be the last part of the state to open.”

Rep. Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) is among those expressing their concerns.

"I think there's a way to balance public health and the reopening of many businesses but it will take the cooperation of the community,” Manley said. “The last thing we want is to crush the hospital system and endanger the health and safety of our first responders"    

As of Thursday, Will County had 4,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and 230 deaths. In comparison, Cook County had over 24,000 positive cases and 1,100 deaths. Furthermore, with social distancing at the forefront of keeping the virus asunder, Will County’s population compared to Chicago’s population as well as square miles clearly shows distinct differences between the two areas.

Bertino-Tarrant is starting a discussion with the Will County Health Department to address the needs of local communities to be prepared if the governor adjusts the reopening plan based on the county’s ability to offer alternatives. 

“Any plan needs to address safety guidelines, hospital and ventilator capacities and PPE availability. Furthermore, it needs to be led by the Will County Health Department, who has the responsibility of monitoring and reporting,” Bertino-Tarrant offered. “The legislators I have spoken to understand the needs to have a reasonable balance, with individual health concerns being the number one priority.”

Rep. John Connor (D-Lockport) will work with Bertino-Tarrant and the Will County Health Department in hopes of gathering as much information as possible to determine if the area is ready to go to the next phase.

"I look forward to reviewing the relevant data with the Will County Health Department and other agencies to determine if Will County's current district placement is the best possible fit moving forward in this pandemic,” Connor said.

Additionally, less than 700,000 people make up Will County, compared to the more than 5.15 million people who live in Cook County.

"Governor Pritzker is right that one must have a life to have a livelihood,” said Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill). “If local health departments have suggestions how residents of COVID-19 low-incidence areas safely can have both, I hope the governor will consider them." 

PLAINFIELD — Dozens of local business around Will County and the surrounding area have been forced to shut their doors as they were not deemed essential under the governor’s Stay at Home Order. 

However, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) believes those shops are essential to the strength of their communities and should be open while adhering to social distancing guidelines. 

“People are allowed to freely shop at big-box stores like Menards and Target, so they should have the ability to support small businesses as well,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Those large stores are left to follow the governor’s guidelines — guidelines our local shops are also capable of following.”

Bertino-Tarrant and several of her colleagues in the Senate called on Gov. JB Pritzker to consider giving small businesses the opportunity to open. 

The group’s reopen plan, sent to Pritzker Tuesday, would allow businesses to work with local officials to prove they can enforce face covering requirements, adhere to the 6-foot social distancing guidelines based on square footage of the store, and ensure a thorough cleaning regimen for the safety of both customers and employees. 

“Local businesses and family-owned shops are suffering to the point some wonder if they will ever be able to financially recover from the pandemic,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Employees of these businesses are left unemployed and worry they might have to find new jobs. As state leaders, it is our duty to look for reasonable solutions to help all Illinoisans."

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